By William R. Dixon
Many folks can live most of their lives without really knowing their true calling. For me it was different. All I ever really wanted to do was to operate the family newspaper.
I can’t remember a time when the passion of owning the Tribune did not burn in my soul. It came naturally. We were, after all, a newspaper family. Our lives all revolved around it. Deadlines, government oversight, photo ops, fires, weddings, criminal trials, car wrecks, engagements, births, and obituaries.
Growing up, nothing ever happened on a Tuesday until the paper was put to bed.
Just as a baby duckling imprints it’s mother from first sight, I welcomed the indelible mark of a newspaper man.
Some would call it “ink in the veins”. Life could have been easier if the mark could have been erased. Alas, the stain remains.
I recall the time that a decision was made to sell what was perceived as my birthright newspaper, to persons outside of the family. I was nine years old. I was furious! How could they? It seemed sacrilegious.
Unfortunately, that was the reality. It was on that day, that this pre-teen resolved to somehow ascend through the ranks and re-gain ownership and control of the Republican Tribune.
Fast forward nine years to 1983. I was eighteen years old. The paper and it’s new owners were struggling. Grandpa told me that they were delinquent on both the business land-contract payment and the rent. I begged him to foreclose and take the Trib back. I would run it! The answer was no.
He allowed the non-payments to continue. A decision that would ultimately haunt him most of the rest of his life.
It was within two years of that time that we learned that the newspaper’s then owner had not paid his employees’ federal withholding taxes for quite some time. The debt amounted to over one hundred thousand dollars. The paper was to be closed and the contents sold at public auction to satisfy the delinquent taxes.
I was crushed. Again, I implored. Foreclose and I would run it.
This time Gramp would surely do it. And he would have too, had it not been for the I.R.S..
My Grandfather pleaded with the feds not to close the paper. It would have been much more valuable alive than dead. Their answer was no.
I did not attend the auction. It was much too painful for me.
Did the turn of events discourage or change my ultimate goal? Not a chance!
I have never backed down from a fight and there was no reason to start now. It did make things much more difficult though. Now, I would need to start the Trib from scratch.
“All you need is ignorance and confidence, and success is sure,” Mark Twain once penned. One of my favorite quotes. How true that is! And so it was. The time passed by.
Along came the day when I believed the resurrection possible. My loving wife would later describe that time as “one huge mid-life crisis”.
I realized that it was a long-shot, but I was not willing to grow old and be forced to live with the “Would-a… Could-a…Should-a’s”.
The Grandparents never really got over the paper’s demise. We were very close. The older they were, the more it seemed to bother them. The more that it bothered them, the more it bothered me.
As Gramp entered his mid-eighties, I became aware of his impending deadline. If the paper was to be re-born, true satisfaction could not be achieved unless I could deliver it prior to their passing.
Gramp would come to know the new Tribune and help celebrate it’s first anniversary prior to succumbing to cancer in December of 2004.
Gram would know it’s second and third birthday before she left us.
I must say, it was very rewarding to deliver the best gift that a grandson could have ever given. If we do nothing else, we will have accomplished that.
But the fact of the matter is, we accomplish more each day.
We purchased the Deckerville Recorder, along with the legacy of the Carsonville Journal in January of 2010. We purchased the Marlette Leader in 2014. Both were important pieces of the business puzzle and we are proud to carryon the locally owned tradition first begun in 1878.
The newspapers were combined into a single print edition titled as Tribune -Recorder-Leader.
We continue to grow every day. That’s because we’re better. While the actual recipe remains classified, but I can tell you that it starts with better coverage, better photos, better printing, better editing, and better content. Sprinkle in courage, commitment, community service and compassion, with equal parts of objectivity, unyielding principle, steadfast reliability, unparalleled customer service, and transparent honesty. Add a few thousand readers and a few hundred advertisers and you get all of the makings of a great community newspaper.
If you have not guessed it already, this stuff is pure delight for us. We’re sure happy that we can provide you this useful, informative, and entertaining, enterprise. Every day we become more deeply rooted, stronger and better. No matter the time in life, the location of my travels, the wages received, or the responsibilities accepted, I have always known that this was the true calling. And for that I say, Thank You! It is our passion and privilege to do so.